The award-winning Chef’s Table Restaurant is one of our favorite restaurants in Winter Garden. Located on the first floor of the Historic Edgewater Hotel on Plant Street, they are known for their artisanal craft cocktails and Southern inspired dishes such as:
Local Beet Salad, always a treat
Smoked Fish Dip, plenty to share
Pimento Cheese and Pickles, my favorite
Artisanal Cheese Board, beautiful variety
Collards and Grits, a perfect combination
Dining there reminded me of some of my favorite recipes:
Created for Easy Breezy Florida Cooking:
Collard Greens Florida Style
Jack: If you’re from the backwoods of Florida or the hills of West Virginia, as I am, you know that “collards” or “greens” are a diet staple (FYI: No Cracker or Hillbilly calls collard greens by both names at the same time). The old recipe was basically to slather them in bacon grease. This recipe elevates the greens to semi-gourmet status.
1 pound frozen, chopped collard greens
2 slices bacon
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
Cook bacon in a 10″-frying pan until crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. Crumble and set aside.
Sauté onion and bell pepper in bacon drippings until soft, about 4 minutes.
Bring chicken stock and water to a boil in a large sauce pan or 3-quart Dutch oven.
Add collard greens, bacon, onion-pepper mixture and sugar to stock. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
From A Culinary History of Florida :
Easy Smoked Fish Dip
In the mid-1700s, when the Duke of Richelieu arrived in Minorca, at the port city of Mahan, mayonnaise was created from eggs and oil for a banquet. Today, smoking meat and fish is a flavor enhancer and the food should be eaten or refrigerated shortly after it’s smoked. Mullet and mackerel are great for smoking due to their high fat content.
½ pound smoked mullet, skin and bones removed
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon grated onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon Datil pepper sauce, or hot sauce
Combine all ingredients and chill before serving with crackers.
From Jack Harris Unwrapped:
Pimento Cheese Spread
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz jar pimientos, drained
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
dash white pepper
Combine all ingredients, mix well, chill.
Pimento Cheese Spread is great for packing in a cooler for a picnic or just a snack. As a sandwich or a spread it is delicious!
A trip to downtown Winter Garden takes you back in time … a time before the manufactured Main Street at a nearby theme park to a real historic Florida Main Street. Enjoy an ice cream cone or sip on a cup of coffee as you leisurely stroll down Plant Street. Browse the shops, lose track of time in the museums, and it is all less than 30 minutes from the popular Florida theme parks.
Winter Garden was at one time a major citrus center and the Heritage Museum shows off its colorful past with beautifully displayed citrus crate labels reflecting the popular industry. The Central Florida Railroad Museum down the road is just as interesting.
Not far from downtown Winter Garden is Lake Apopka, at one time alive with fish camps and tourists. A lakeside campground was constructed with WPA funds bringing tin-can tourists to the area as well. Today, as you meander through the park and over the cement arches you can see traces of a once thriving past of this now dead lake. Sewage, fertilizer and a chemical spill are partly to blame for turning the lake waters to a shade of green that is hard to describe. The baby gator doesn’t seem to mind, but then he is a Gator.
Tin Can Tourists of today live a more luxurious lifestyle than the campers of the past, but Florida is still a travel trailer paradise.